Previous studies on the interrelationship between sleep and agitation relied on group-aggregates and so results may not be applicable to individuals. This proof-of-concept study presents the single-subject study design with time series analysis as a method to evaluate the association between sleep and agitation in individual nursing home residents using actigraphy.
To record activity, three women and two men (aged 78–89 years) wore the MotionWatch 8© (MW8) for 9 consecutive weeks. Total sleep time and agitation were derived from the MW8 data. We performed time series analysis for each individual separately. To gain insight into the experiences with the actigraphy measurements, care staff filled out an investigator-developed questionnaire on their and participants’ MW8 experiences.
A statistically significant temporal association between sleep and agitation was present in three out of five participants. More agitation was followed by more sleep for participant 1, and by less sleep for participant 4. As for participants 3 and 4, more sleep was followed by more agitation. Two-thirds of the care staff members (16/24) were positive about the use of the MW8. Acceptability of the MW8 was mixed: two residents refused to wear the MW8 thus did not participate, one participant initially experienced the MW8 as somewhat unpleasant, while four participants seemed to experience no substantial problems.
A single-subject approach with time series analysis can be a valuable tool to gain insight into the temporal relationship between sleep and agitation in individual nursing home residents with dementia experiencing sleep disturbance and agitation.